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May 2017 | Vol. 17 Iss. 05


A STUDIO WORTH CHEERING ABOUT By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com


he owners of the Forever Cheer studio found each other through a mutual love of cheer. A courtship ensued, and it continues today through a business, coaching and giving back to the community. “We both cheered in high school, college and on all-star cheer teams,” Ulbby Dyson said. “He grew up in Kentucky; I was in California. We both started teaching in gyms, and he came to California to teach at a rival gym to mine.” Reggie and Ulbby Dyson met at a cheer competition in California. He asked her to breakfast; she was four hours late for their first date because she was so nervous. They fell in love, were married and later moved to Salt Lake City and established Forever Cheer in 2013. The Dysons wanted to be their own bosses and teach the sport they loved. They found a building in West Jordan (6792 Airport Road)

The Copper Hills cheerleaders won the fight song division at the state cheerleading competition. (Ulbby Dyson/ Forever Cheer)

The special athletes cheer team at Forever Cheer competes in national and state championships. (Ulbby Dyson/Forever Cheer)

and established a cheerleading business for all levels. “Our oldest daughter suffered from infantile spasms, a type of seizure, Ulbby said. “We were told at 9 years old she may never walk or talk. We kept working with her; one in five kids come out of it completely; she has not yet. Sitting at Primary Children’s (hospital), we realized that a lot of families and kids miss out on opportunities that we have had.” The Dyson’s decided if they ever had their own gym they would provide a place where special athletes could go, perform and even go to competitions. The special athletes category is new around the country. Several states offer first and second place awards to these teams. Team Passion Special Athletes trains on Wednesday evenings at the Forever Cheer gym. They perform an all-star routine just like any other team, choreographed with stunting,

song division at the state competition. Riverton also won the varsity and junior varsity comp division at the state competition. “We try to teach even the high school kids that there is more to it than just cheer,” Ulbby said. “For homecoming, the cheer team collected board games and took them to schools in our community. They are ambassadors of our school. The kids are role models, cheering is just part of it.” The cheerleaders represent the school 24 hours a day. “We try to turn around the stereotype that exists for cheerleaders,” Ulbby said. “They are required to keep a 3.0 grade point average. Cheerleaders are not just with pom-poms and a skirt. They make posters and wish the teams luck.” The Dysons have mutual respect and love what they do. l

Local Postal Customer ECRWSS Scan Here: Interactive online edition with more photos.

tumbling and dance. Several volunteer trainers help the team. “We started with two special athletes, and we had six coaches on the floor with them,” Ulbby said. “We would tell the kids they could go home because we did not have enough athletes, but they said no and continued to come and help. We have volunteers from Herriman, Riverton, Copper Hills and West Jordan high schools.” The studio offers tumbling, cheer and open gym classes with instructors. They have competitive teams as well as beginner and cheer prep classes for intermediate skill level. Ulbby is the head cheer coach at Copper Hills High School. Reggie was an assistant coach at Riverton High School. He recently accepted a position as assistant coach at Copper Hills with his wife. The Grizzly Cheer team won the fight


Forever Cheer offers instruction for cheerleaders of all ages and abilities. (Ulbby Dyson/Forever Cheer)

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Page 2 | May 2017

West Jordan Journal

Local author Brandon Mull shares secrets of his success By Natalie Conforto | natalie.c@mycityjournals.com The West Jordan City Journal is a monthly publication distributed directly to residents via the USPS as well as locations throughout West Jordan. For information about distribution please email circulation@mycityjournals. com or call our offices. Rack locations are also available on our website. For subscriptions please contact: circulation@mycityjournals.com The views and opinions expressed in display advertisements do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Loyal Perch Media or the City Journals. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the owner.

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ablehaven.” “The Candy Shop War.” “Beyonders.” “The Five Kingdoms.” “Spirit Animals.” And now “Dragonwatch.” All of these New York Times bestselling series were hatched here in Utah by someone who can’t type. That’s right—Brandon Mull published 15 novels using what your junior high typing teacher would disdainfully dub “the hunt-andpeck method.” For him, however, typing with just his index fingers has been one of the secrets of his success. Mull admits that he could probably type faster if he did it “right,” but home row was just something he had to give up in order to find his writing rhythm. “I did try to learn how to really type, and I just hated it,” he said. “It was killing my joy of writing. It’s similar to playing the piano. If people try to make me read music, I just can’t do it, but I love to play around by ear.” Mull plans his sentences to coincide with his typing pace, so he feels his typing style doesn’t hamper his writing. Connecting with his readers is another way Mull has found success. His large fan base in Utah is mostly due to his many local events and school assemblies. When people recognize him on the street, Mull says it’s “probably not from my picture at the back of my books, but because they saw me at their school or a live event.” The author maintains a rigorous tour schedule, traveling three to five months of the year and visiting as many as five schools or events per day. His book tours have taken him all over the U.S. and to far-off places such as Russia, Singapore, Indonesia and Poland, which have fed his imagination and inspired new realms and characters. Mull spoke about the first book of his new series, “Dragonwatch,” at the Viridian Library this April. “Dragonwatch” picks up right where “Fablehaven” left off, so that readers could have more adventures with the characters Seth and Kendra. “I’ve had really good turnouts at my Viridian events in West Jordan,” Mull said. “Because I’m a local Utah guy that lives in the Salt Lake City area,

Kiah, Gage and Kaden Maw met author Brandon Mull at the launch party for “Dragonwatch.” While reading “Dragonwatch,” Kaden said he wished it would never end. (Taylor Maw)

it’s nice to have local fans, close to home.” Many Utahns are proud to call Mull one of their own. Taylor and Natasha Maw of West Jordan took their kids to the launch party for “Dragonwatch,” which Taylor Maw said was “a great way to get excited about reading. We like our kids to meet authors, especially those like Brandon who are such a positive force for reading. Not only are his books imaginative, but Brandon is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.” The Maws noted the author took time to meet his fans, and he inscribed their books with a personal message and autograph. Another success tip from Mull was finding inspiration. For him, reading was the key. “When I was a kid I read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’” he said. “The big imagination in that story started me daydreaming about my own stories. It became how I coped with reality—I would escape into daydreams. It became an important part of who I was, and I wanted to share it by writing it down.” After the “Chronicles of Narnia” opened Mull’s creativity to the fantasy genre, the “Harry Potter” books showed him a blueprint for success. He cited JK Rowling as his favorite author. “’Harry Potter’ influenced me more than any other book,” he said. “I wanted to make characters smart and twisty, even dark or scary. The young main characters could appeal to kids and adults,

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so entire families could enjoy the story together. I didn’t even know that was possible until I read ‘Harry Potter’ and saw how much kids liked it, how much I liked it and how much my parents liked it.” Humor is also an essential element in Mull’s stories. Before writing fantasy, he wrote comedy as a member of BYU’s comic troupe, Divine Comedy. “I lean on the comedy with the fantasy,” he said. “To me, that’s really challenging and fun—to make people laugh.” Mull’s formula of comedy and suspense to appeal to all ages has worked for the Maw family. “The other day our reluctant reader told us he wishes ‘Dragonwatch’ would not end because he loved reading it so much,” Taylor Maw said. “He even declared his excitement by writing ‘Dragonwatch is awesome’ in bright, bold chalk across our driveway. Kids who read become people who think, who then change the world.” “Write what you know” is a success tip Mull borrowed from Stephen King, which Mull uses when concocting his characters. One of his favorite characters in his own books is Seth Sorenson from “Fablehaven.” “I like his reckless curiosity, inspired by my brother Bryson,” Mull said. “It makes him a fun character to write. He doesn’t always make the smartest decisions, but he makes interesting decisions, which makes the story unpredictable.” Like his storybook counterpart, Bryson actually kept an “emergency kit” made out of a cereal box. As a kid, Bryson once snuck into a game room through an air vent so he could open the door for his friends to play some pool. Success for Mull didn’t come without its many failures. Hopeful writers can take heart that even Brandon Mull once faced “nonstop rejection.” Mull said that he first tried “lots of terrible short stories,” which got rejected for years. He kept trying, and wrote his first novel. “I finally found a publisher who didn’t like my first submission, but they liked my style and asked for something else,” he said. “That something else was ‘Fablehaven.’” l

May 2017 | Page 3


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Page 4 | May 2017


West Jordan Journal

When Pinterest fails: real gardening tips that actually work in West Jordan By Natalie Conforto | natalie.c@mycityjournals.com


arah Oler, a stay-at-home-mother of four in West Jordan, cultivates her garden as a hobby, a true food source and a way to teach her boys some table manners. She has found methods to make her backyard blossom as the rose, even in this tough, rocky West Jordan soil that has foiled many a hopeful local gardener. Her secret is letting nature’s recycling program do the work, with a little help from manure, eggshells and worms. How many 5-year-olds voluntarily eat asparagus? Oler has found that when her boys watch something grow in the garden, or better yet, harvest it themselves, they are more likely to eat it when it appears on their plates for dinner. “I love that they can just pick some asparagus to eat when they want a snack,” Oler said. “I don’t think we’ve ever brought raspberries into the house—they all get eaten in the backyard,” The Olers have 15 raspberry canes, which they keep productive all summer by mulching often with the pruned clippings of their own fruit trees. This sustainable cycle keeps expenses low and yield high. A “food forest” spans the south end of the Olers’ backyard, where perennial plants grow basically maintenance-free, supporting each other in their own ecosystem. Unlike annual garden plants, which stifle each other when grown too closely together, the plants in the food forest thrive in close proximity, mimicking a real forest. It contains a larger canopy of apple and cherry trees, a sub-canopy of larger shrubs and bushes such as goji berries, gooseberries, valerian and roses, medicinal herbs including comfrey, oregano, and thyme, groundcovers of strawberries, caledula and mallow, and root crops of onions, carrots and beets. “Mother nature likes to keep herself covered,” Oler said, citing that groundcovers help retain water and suppress unwanted weeds. Four garden boxes line the Olers’ north backyard, where they grow typical annual garden plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce and kale. In the winter, they let everything naturally erode rather than yanking out all the dead plants. Leaving the plants intact helps to preserve the soil structure, while pulling them out would collapse the networks created by the roots and stems. Dried husks of last year’s tomato plants are still evident in March. When planting time arrives after Mother’s Day, Oler will

prepare her beds by going through with a shovel and breaking up the soil and dried stems, which will just add to the soil makeup for this year. “Don’t till your soil,” Oler said. “Just gently fold in soil additives so that your soil structure remains intact and microorganisms can thrive. The microorganisms are what give you healthy soil.” The Olers don’t have to shell out the cash for fancy compost. Instead, they make their own. “I’m not a vegetable farmer; I’m a soil farmer,” Oler said, adding that she couldn’t emphasize enough how important compost is for her soil. The Olers keep an empty 5-quart size ice cream tub on their kitchen counter, where they deposit leavings such as banana and orange peels, peach pits and overripe fruits and veggies. Every couple of days, Oler will empty the waste into one of her “worm tubes” in her garden boxes, or bury it in her garden compost trench, adding shredded newspaper or dead leaves as a carbon to balance with the nitrogen of the food waste. The food in the tubes attracts the worms that are already in her yard, and their “castings,” (ahem, poop) further enhance the soil. Months later, the waste will decompose into fine compost. For more information on worm tubes, visit www.thewormtower.com. “Don’t throw away any of your organic matter,” Oler said. She doesn’t even toss her weeds. Instead, she lays plucked weeds back onto the soil and allows nature to devour them, incorporating their substance into rich compost. Eggshells are another part of Oler’s soil nutrient regimen. Each week, one of her boys is tasked with smashing the eggshells left after breakfast into a 5-gallon bucket in the garage. By early April, the bucket is half full of fine eggshell bits, and ready to be scattered into the garden beds. Oler said that the eggshells “add calcium, and help prevent blossom-end rot in tomatoes.” Oler explained how she enriches her compost for free. “In West Jordan, there are plenty of horse properties, and many people are willing to give away their manure,” she said. “Just make sure that it’s been sitting there for a full year, and it will be superfine and light: the perfect top layer for planting seeds or starter plants.” Oler knows the manure is ready for her garden when it doesn’t give off that barnyard fragrance.

Oler’s methods not only economize the available organic matter from her yard, but they also conserve her family’s budget. She has found that her harvest-time grocery bills are significantly lower, and her family of six feasts on fresh, nutritious produce all summer long. l

Backyard gardener Sarah Oler recommends these gardening holidays. New Year’s Day Order seeds Plan your garden plots Valentine’s Day Prune your trees and save the prunings Start tomato and pepper seeds indoors St. Patrick’s Day Start watermelon and cucumber seeds indoors Easter Prepare garden beds: • Roughly chop dried stalks, organic matter with a shovel • Empty worm towers and replace in the ground • Add any soil amendments like crushed eggshells • Sprinkle on other organic matter such as fall leaves, dried grass stalks and deciduous tree prunings (not pine) cut into short twigs • Top dress with a few inches of manure compost • Plant cool climate crops: peas, carrots, garlic, onions, lettuces, spinach, broccoli, kale (mid-April) Mother’s Day • The week before planting, harden off seedlings grown indoors • Water your seedlings well and plant into the garden. Make sure the soil in the pot is level with the garden soil. • For tomatoes, remove bottom set of leaves and plant your seedling 1–2 inches below the next set of leaves. • Plant zucchini, winter squash, green beans, cucumbers, melons, indoor seedlings and any other vegetable seeds • Water well • When plants emerge, add mulch such as older grass clippings, leaves, straw or untreated wood chips



May 2017 | Page 5

West Jordan Symphony takes on a rising star as its new conductor By Natalie Conforto | natalie.c@mycityjournals.com “I was expecting someone older.” “I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Jeannine Hawkins and Cassie Lorensen, members of the West Jordan Symphony, remember their thoughts when 24-year-old Shane Mickelsen arrived as the symphony’s new conductor just over a year ago. Cleanshaven and eager, Mickelsen appeared to the symphony members to be awfully young for the job. After all, their beloved conductor of 12 years, Larry White, sported hair to match his name by the time he stepped down in December of 2015. Would this newcomer possess the skills and experience necessary to command a full orchestra? Shane Mickelsen was only 24 years old when he became the conductor of the West Jordan Symphony last year, but symphony members agree that he is an asset to the group. “He’s brought in a younger crowd,” said Jeannine Hawkins, who plays the trumpet. (Shane Mickelsen/mickelsenmusic.com)

Mickelsen’s resume confirms his experience. Growing up, he played clarinet in bands and orchestras, and was chosen as the drum major for his high school’s marching band. When he was just 18, he conducted an orchestra for an opera that he wrote in college. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance and a Master of Music degree in music composition from Utah State University. Later, he served as artistic director and then associate conductor of the Utah Philharmonic Orchestra. Luckily for local music lovers, Mickelsen has proven his competence, both as a musician and as an approachable leader. After only one year, symphony members are singing his praises. “Shane is really good. He’s fun, and he makes jokes, and he helps us learn theory as we play,” said Lorensen, who has studied the viola for 25 years, playing with the West Jordan Symphony for the past five. Lorensen said she

appreciates Mickelsen’s teaching techniques that reach the varying skill levels of symphony members. He uses a lot of imagery and descriptive analogies to describe the sound he wants the group to achieve. While many of the instrumentalists are music teachers themselves, high school students and new players also comprise the local group. No audition is required. “Shane brings out the best in us,” said Hawkins, who was a music education major and marching band trumpet player at the University of Utah. Hawkins notes Mickelsen’s versatility as a musician, adding that he also teaches voice lessons to her sons, who started as novices and have now earned “Superior” ratings in vocal competitions, thanks to Mickelson’s expert coaching. “He is so talented,” Hawkins said. “He’s very knowledgeable, and he wants to share that with us. He wants us to love playing as much as he loves putting it together.” She mentioned that as a newer member of the symphony, she considered leaving when White retired. Then Mickelsen sent out an email to ask the symphony what they wanted to play. Hawkins recalls, “I took that opportunity to mention Gershwin and the big band stuff, because brass isn’t usually featured in an orchestra. But he listened to me, and that’s what made me stay.” “He incorporates what we say,” Hawkins said, citing that Gershwin’s music will be the theme of the group’s spring performance May 5 at the Viridian Event Center. They will also play big band swing music, and the Berceuse and Finale from Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite. Mickelsen’s composing talents have come in handy for the Symphony. The group regularly warms up to a tuning chorale that he wrote for them to practice listening, balance and tuning skills. They have also performed his arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” which Lorensen said they all love to play. “Amazing Grace” is featured on Mickelsen’s new album, “Classical Hymns,” which was produced by Paul Cardall and released this March, hitting

The West Jordan Symphony performed Christmas music for their final concert with their previous conductor, Larry White, in December 2015. (Jon Bowden)

No. 8 on the iTunes classical chart. The Piano Guys and Jenny Oaks Baker perform some of Mickelsen’s arrangements on the album. When asked about his composing, Mickelsen deflected the spotlight to the instrumentalists who bring his work to life. “Everything relies on the performer,” he said. “In one example, you may have written an excellent novel, but no one will know unless there is someone capable of interpreting the writing that reads it. Needless to say, performers do not get enough credit; without them, a composer is nothing more than a wishful thinker.” There are 48 members now registered in the West Jordan Symphony, but Mickelsen said that many more would be welcome. “The biggest challenge facing the symphony is that we need more string players,” he said. “We do well for what we have, but we could use so many more first and second violins, violas, cellos and basses. We are also looking for one bassoon player, some oboe parts, trombone, tuba, and percussion players. Increasing our numbers would greatly increase what we are able to accomplish.” Although this is a volunteer organization, Lorensen and Hawkins continue to play with the orchestra for a more rewarding payoff. Even Mickelsen, who puts in nine hours per week, is

paid only in applause. He enjoys working with the West Jordan Symphony for “its sense of community and belonging. Everyone treats each other like family—it’s a great place to call home once a week,” Mickelsen said. While Lorensen describes the fun and welcoming atmosphere from the conductor and other members, Hawkins finds the collective resonance exhilarating. “You’re a small piece of a whole thing, so you’re concentrating on your own part,” Hawkins said. “But those moments when we just come together, it’s such a beautiful sound. I think we all feel it—it’s sort of magical.” For Hawkins, her time commitment with the West Jordan Symphony is more of a treat than a sacrifice. All members attend the two-hour weekly Saturday morning rehearsal and practice on their own as often as they deem necessary. Hawkins practices three times per week on her own. As a mom, she is often running her kids to their various activities and cheering them on. But when it comes to the symphony, she said she loves “that it’s mine. It’s something I do for me, that my kids can come and watch me do.” To get involved, email wjsymphony@ gmail.com, or visit its website at westjordansymphony.org. l

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West Jordan Journal

Follow the yellow brick road to the Viridian this May 16–26 By Natalie Conforto | natalie.c@mycityjournals.com


wenty-two youth gathered around a piano on a chilly Tuesday evening this past March, following their music director’s instructions to enunciate their consonants as they sang, “Oh be careful, of that rascal, keep away from . . . the jitterbug.” They are part of the South Valley Youth Theater, rehearsing for their May production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Their music director is only 16 years old. Like a typical youth theater, young people fill the acting roles onstage. What makes SVYT unique is that youth are given leadership roles as well. Teens have had the opportunity to direct, choreograph, music direct and stagemanage major, full-length productions at SVYT. For the musical “Annie” last summer, a 14-year-old accompanied the entire show on the piano. “I feel completely honored that they trust my capabilities. It’s such a great learning experience,” said 16-year-old music director Kate Gibson, who hopes to pursue a career in music and theater education. She feels this opportunity will look great on her resume. Gibson has been involved in many other performing groups, but South Valley Youth Theater has earned her loyalty in the way they build up their young participants. “This group is different because it’s so supportive of their youth,” Gibson said. “They make sure that everyone is happy and fits in. There are nine of us on the youth board, and we are given a great deal of responsibility in executing the shows.” Gibson is one of 750 youth who have come through the theater program since it opened in 2013. “I wanted to start a theater where youth of all abilities could have an opportunity to be highlighted and to grow,” Founder Jessie Ibrahim said. Ibrahim mentioned her own rough childhood when she was bullied and then discovered acceptance in theater. “I might have committed suicide, but when I found the theater, I suddenly had friends, and I felt needed,” she said. “I hope that I can bring that sense of belonging to these kids.” Ibrahim proves her commitment to the youth by her casting policies. She double-casts all the lead roles in order to give more kids a chance to shine and because the two casts can learn from each other. “I had an experience where one of my leads got very sick and was hospitalized,” she said. “Luckily she was double cast, so the show could go on.” Another casting policy Ibrahim employs is that young ladies cannot have two lead roles in a row. (As in most theaters, the girls outnumber the boys by about four to one.) “Those who had a lead in the last show have to take a turn in the ensemble and help others grow to that same level,” she said. Ibrahim’s training has paid off for these

Cast members try on costumes for “The Wizard of Oz.” All of the lead roles in the play are double cast to give more kids a chance to shine. (Natalie Conforto/City Journals)

youth when they audition in their high schools. “You’ll see SVYT kids in leads in every single high school from Riverton to West Valley—on both sides of the freeway,” Ibrahim said. “The kids know I care about them because I try to get to all of their shows.” The numbers show that Ibrahim’s hope to uplift teens is being realized. Ibrahim said she watches “shy kids bloom and blossom with confidence” in her shows, and then they come back for more. Most of the participants in each show are returnees, but word is spreading, and about one-third of each cast is new to SVYT, expanding their theater family every time. More than 100 kids auditioned for the theater’s past three open productions. Julie Tate, a South Jordan mom, feels that SVYT is a good fit for her kids, who are involved in the current production of “The Wizard of Oz.” “This is our third show,” Tate said. “This group provides a fantastic performing opportunity for kids to develop their talents and make great friendships.” Ibrahim loves the bond that the youth form during shows. “They do things together on their own time because they have become such close, close friends,” she said. “Kids who have left and gone away still claim us as family.” Mary Ellen Smith, a local seamstress who provides costumes for professional and community theaters throughout the valley, talked about her soft spot for SVYT because of its inclusive atmosphere. Smith learned of SVYT when she attended “Wonderland,” which was performed in ASL to include the deaf community. Some of the cast members were also deaf. Smith was so impressed to see deaf kids cast in lead roles and hearing kids who had learned their parts in sign language to validate their fellow cast members. Smith found director Jessie Ibrahim after the show, gave her a hug and volunteered on the spot. “This group has a lot of kids with unique

abilities,” Smith said. “Jessie works with them and gives them a chance. She doesn’t call them disabilities, just a challenge that they have, and I appreciate that. There are kids with ADD, who seem to be able to focus better; when they’re acting, they’re not acting out. I can’t praise Jessie enough.” Smith has donated many sewing hours and many bolts of her personal fabric collection to SVYT. “I think they’ve done a wonderful job, and they’re a real asset to the community,” she said. “I wish everyone could contribute.” All of the participants with SVYT donate their time. Ibrahim and Jeannine Hawkins, who are co-directing “The Wizard of Oz,” will donate about 15 hours per week during normal rehearsals, and up to 40 hours during the show weeks. Other community members, impressed by SVYT’s inclusive mission, have donated rehearsal space, such as the Shar Wood Recording Studio and the Black Diamond Dance Studio. Unlike most community theater groups, however, SVYT is not subsidized by city funds, and Ibrahim said that finding performance venues is her biggest challenge. School stages cost about $10,000 to rent for a production, and with SVYT’s modest cast fee ($50) and what Ibrahim calls “family-friendly ticket prices ($5-$7), renting a school is not an option. The group also has to pay for the rights for the script, costumes, set, props and programs. “The Wizard of Oz” will be performed in the amphitheater of the Viridian Event Center on May 16, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 26. SVYT will bring in its own curtains and set pieces for the show. Tickets will be available at the door or from cast members in advance for $5 for lawn seating. Guests may bring their own low-backed lawn chairs or rent chairs for $1 each. Concessions will also be available. SVYT will hold auditions for their next show, “Cinderella,” in June. l



May 2017 | Page 7


Page 8 | May 2017

West Jordan Journal


Dont Text & Drive

The Jordan River Commission visited the West Jordan City Council on April 5 to give updates about the river bottoms. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

Jordan River Commission to help restore, finish parkway in 2017 By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


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hen completed in Fall of 2017, a pedestrian and biking a bridge spanning from North Temple to 200 South in Salt Lake City will complete the Jordan River Parkway Trail, likely creating a national record for Utah. “We have done a bit of research, and we think that when this is completed the Jordan River Parkway trail plus the connecting trails on the north and south ends that go all the way from Ogden to Provo, will be the longest continuous paved trail system in the United States,” said Laura Hanson, the executive director for the Jordan River Commission. “We are pretty excited.” Because West Jordan is a member city of the Jordan River Commission, Hanson visited the city council on April 5 to update city leaders about current and past projects along the riverfront. She said securing $1.23 million from the Utah State Legislature for the 1,200-foot bridge at North Temple was the commission’s “biggest win” of 2016. Currently, there are only two gaps in the 45-mile Jordan River Parkway Trail: the one between North Temple and 200 South and another in the Bluffdale area from 14600 South to about 15000 South. The Bluffdale section, fully funded by Salt Lake County, will likely reach completion in June 2017, according to the commission’s website, leaving the bridge as the final connector. The $6.64 million bridge, which has been funded through intergovernmental partnerships between Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, the Jordan River Commission and the State of Utah, will span three active freight rail lines. While $50,000 is still needed to close the gap, Salt Lake City anticipates internally allocating the funds necessary to finish the bridge and complete the trail, according to the website. “Thank you for the long path that we have that will be the longest in the nation,” West Jordan Councilman Dirk Burton said after Hanson’s presentation. “I have ridden my bicycle from here to Ogden, and it is a fantastic route.” Burton also commented on the commission’s efforts to remove “miserable goat heads” from the parkway and river bottoms. These pesky puncture vine contain spiky seed pods that break apart, harden and dry and have seen explosive growth among the Jordan River for some time. “If you have ever gotten a flat tire on the Jordan River Parkway trail, this guy is likely the culprit,” Hanson said. “They will get stuck in the bottoms of your shoes in your dog’s paws.” For the past five years, the Jordan River Commission has used an insect called a puncture vine weevil to combat the spread of these plants. The weevil eats only puncture vine and burrows its eggs into the plant’s head and green teeth, reducing the amount of seeds the vines can spread. “Each one of these plants can produce between 500 and 2,000 seeds, so if you let just one seed go, you’ve got a big problem,” Hanson said, justifying the use of weevils. In 2017, the commission hopes to better manage a puncture

Jordan River Parkway Trail users will likely be able to travel from Lehi to North Salt Lake entirely by trail come Fall 2017. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

hot spot along the trail in Midvale near 700 West, Hanson said. “It is likely to creep into West Jordan’s sections of the trails if we don’t get it under control, so we are working hard on that,” she said. Last year, the commission cleared invasive species out from around the trail and river near 3300 South. 3300 South is also receiving other cosmetic and restorative updates this year. “It used to be a magnet for illegal dumping, homeless camps and really quite covered in invasive vegetation, and is starting to look better every day,” Hanson said. Pioneer Crossing Park in West Valley City is similarly undergoing renovations. The commission secured $3 million for the park updates alone from the Salt Lake County parks and recreation bond that passed in November. Other areas along the Jordan River will start to see new access points, trailhead kiosks and signage within the next two years as part of another development project, Hansen said. North Salt Lake received one of the newest trail kiosk signs. The city is working to create a boat access point into the river near Center Street. The commission helps to roll out a master-planned vision of the Jordan River by assisting member cities implement projects along the trail and river. Out of the 17 cities that the Jordan River runs through or borders, 14 are members. Bluffdale and Midvale joined the commission in 2016, and Hanson said the commission will try to persuade Lehi, Murray and the newly incorporated Millcreek to join this year. West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said he was impressed with what the commission has done for West Jordan and all other cities in the valley and called the Jordan River and its trail a valuable amenity for all cities involved. l



Firefighters learn how to save, revive police dogs By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


n late-March, a local veterinarian taught West Jordan Fire Department medics and emergency medical technicians during three training sessions how to save wounded police K-9s. The training could have come in handy last year when Police Service Dog Odin tore off a rear toe. He caught his paw between a vehicle and a windshield wiper blade while jumping off a car’s hood, following a narcotics training exercise. “He was bleeding profusely, and at the time it would have been nice to call up medical personnel, and they could come up and help patch up Odin,” Odin’s partner, K-9 Officer Gregory Gray of the West Jordan Police Department said. “He was losing a lot of blood, and we were kind of at a loss of what to do at that point.” Odin healed, but his injury might have cleared up faster had the police and fire departments developed a protocol for these types of incidents. One year later, with the help of veterinarian Jennifer Alterman and veterinary technician Stephanie Johnson, of BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Midvale, the fire department learned how to transfer their lifesaving knowledge from humans to animals, so they can save police K-9s, like Odin, in future emergencies. A ripped toe may not sound pleasant, but it’s only a small dose of the potential injuries the service dogs may face. The four K-9s in West Jordan’s police unit are exposed to car crashes, harmful drugs, stabbings and shootings—all while performing vital police functions that their human companions are incapable of, such as sniffing out narcotics and intimidating criminals, Gray said. Alterman’s training focused first on normal health of dogs. She intended this to shed light on abnormalities that she’d discuss later. Through PowerPoint presentations and demonstrations on her own dog, Buster, she taught the firefighters and K-9 officers basic lifesaving techniques for animals.

West Jordan paramedics put out a house fire and revived the homeowner’s cat on March 27 after learning animal lifesaving techniques earlier that day. (West Jordan City)

“Some of the biggest differences between dogs and people with emergency training is the anatomy of dogs,” Alterman said. “Doing things, like chest compressions is going to be a little bit different than in people. K-9 physiology is different than in people, as well, so some things that are poisonous to dogs may not be poisonous to people. Drug dosages are different as well.” Gray said he was grateful to Alterman and the fire department for taking the time to learn these procedures. “It is a lot of energy that goes into these dogs,” he said. “They are our primary partners. We spend more time with our dogs than we do with our own family, and so for us, it is very important that our dogs get the best care if they get injured in the line of duty.” Because of the training, K-9 officers can now bring their furry friends to city firehouses if lifesaving attention is needed. If the situation is dire enough, firefighters can be called out to medicate and revive these dogs—if there aren’t other more pressing emergency situations where humans need attention. While the training was geared toward service dogs, many of the skills the department learned can be applied to all animals. While residents should use vets as their contact for animal care and should not call the fire department for their animals’ injuries or health conditions, the fire department paramedics and EMTs can use their newfound skills to save animals after fires and other calamities. In fact, they did so on March 27, hours after one of Alterman’s trainings. When a home at 8155 South Redwood Road went ablaze, the owner attempted to reenter the building several times to save his cats and subsequently suffered some smoke inhalation injuries, which paramedics assessed on site. Several departments put out the fire, and West Jordan paramedics located the cats. Although one was already dead, they revived the other using techniques they had learned in class earlier that day. While the animal training focused on service dogs, it proved to be helpful in other situations too. l

Stephanie Johnson, a veterinary technician from BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Midvale, teaches West Jordan Fire Department paramedics and emergency medical technicians how to performing lifesaving techniques on police service dogs on March 24. (Reed Scharman/ West Jordan Fire Department)

May 2017 | Page 9


Page 10 | May 2017

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A preliminary plan of the streetscape design West Jordan residents may see at the city’s entrance on 7000 South and about 1100 West. (West Jordan City)

West Jordan looks to beautify city to entice developers

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ack of aesthetic appeal is the biggest hurdle in bringing economic development to West Jordan, according to the city council. That’s why city leaders are moving forward with a near-million-dollar landscaping project at a city entrance. “The cost is huge, but it’s really important that we address this,” Councilman Chad Nichols said, calling streetscapes the city’s most important economic development tool. “I really think that—and this is just me speaking—but that for every dollar we put into this, it’s going to be back tenfold in property values, aesthetics and businesses who want to come to West Jordan.” Mayor Kim Rolfe said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Nichol’s sentiment and wanted to start the beautification process immediately. On March 22, Rolfe, Nichols and councilmen Dirk Burton and Zach Jacob directed staff to finalize plans for a $940,000 landscaping project at the city entrance on 7000 South near 1100 West, using funds from the city’s redevelopment budget. The project will create a landscape complete with green space, cobble rock, shrubberies and native grass along the now-barren hillside. “We need to masterplan the entrances and the interior of the rest of the city, as well— although that’s a grander scale— but starting somewhere is a good move,” Rolfe said, adding that he believes the money invested in these projects will bring back “large dividends.” Because 7000 South is a state road, the Utah Department of Transportation will need to approve landscape plans before West Jordan can begin the project. This also means city officials may be able to secure some state funding for the entrance landscape. Deputy Parks Director David Naylor, who presented a preliminary plan for the 7000 South entrance during the March 22 meeting, also presented landscaping options for the city’s entrance at 9000 South and about 900 West, but

the council chose not to move forward with that streetscape because UDOT plans to extend 9000 South to a seven-lane highway. This could change the landscaping options available to the city. Above-ground telephone lines also line 9000 South, which further limits landscaping options. Only a few types of trees would be safe to use in this area, Naylor said. After Naylor finished his presentation on city entrances, representatives from MGB+A design and a Fehr & Peers transportation presented findings from their study of Redwood Road. In 2015, the city council asked them to evaluate West Jordan’s portion of Redwood Road and present ways city leaders could update the road and surrounding areas to bolster economic development. MGB+A and Fehr & Peers’ Redwood Master Plan Report suggests using vertical elements, site furnishings and patterned park strips to attract pedestrians to Redwood Road. The design these companies presented included adding trees, benches, art and lampposts at intersections and implementing other visual elements on park strips to dress up the space for walkers. The plan also suggests dividing opposing traffic on Redwood Road by using islands and lifted, landscaped medians. These would replace the two-way left turn lane, sometimes referred to as a “suicide lane,” that’s currently in the middle of Redwood Road. In all, it would cost about $17.8 million to implement the Redwood plan within city boundaries. Stating that $17 million is out of reach, Rolfe invited MGB+A and Fehr & Peers to determine the cost of Redwood Road updates from 7800 South to the city center and present to the council at a later date. “I like what I see, but I would just like to identify an area that we could start,” Rolfe said. “Possibly with some cooperation with UDOT and ourselves, we might be able to do a section.” l



M AY 2 017

Paid for by the City of West Jordan

Library Summer Reading Kick Off Party FREE MOVIE IN THE PARK JUNE 2 Salt Lake County Library’s Summer Reading Challenge kicks off on Friday, June 2, from 6-9 p.m., at the Viridian Event Center and Veterans Memorial Park, 8030 South 1825 West. This year’s theme is “Build a Better World” and there will be entertainers, booths and interactive activities that focus on all things building. At sundown, “Moana” will be playing on the big screen. Grab chairs, blankets, and popcorn to enjoy spending time with your friends and family as you watch the new Disney Princess, Moana. For more information on the Summer Reading Kick Off Party, visit slcolibrary.org/summer.

JUNIOR PRINCESS SIGNUPS AT THE LIBRARY SUMMER READING KICK OFF Girls 6-12 years old can sign up to be a Junior Princess during the Western Stampede Rodeo! Signups take place at the Library Summer Reading Kick Off, June 2 from 6-9 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park, 8030 South 1825 West. Princesses receive a tiara Photo by Tyson Wilde and a sash and enjoy a buggy ride during the Grand Entry at the rodeo. There is a $15 nonrefundable registration fee per child. More information and an application online at WesternStampede.com.

MUTTON BUSTIN’ SIGNUPS AT THE LIBRARY SUMMER READING KICK OFF Aspiring young cowboys and cowgirls sign up to grab some fluff and show your stuff during the Mutton Bustin’ event that takes place during the preshow rodeo and intermission every night at the Western Stampede Rodeo, July 1, 3 & 4. Signups take place at the Library Summer Reading Kick Off, June 2 from 6-9 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park, 8030 South 1825 West. This is a fun opportunity for little cowpokes to try their skills at riding sheep in the rodeo arena and win great prizes! Kids must be at least 4 years old, no taller than 4 feet and weigh less than 50 pounds. Parent and child must be present to register and when checking in on the night of the rodeo. There is a $15 nonrefundable registration fee per child. More information and an application online at WesternStampede.com.

Photos by Tyson Wilde

M AY O R ’ S M E S S A G E

COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPOINTS DAVID B. NEWTON TO FILL THE AT-LARGE SEAT After going through the process of appointing another council member after a vacancy, I am again reminded of the many great people we have in our city who care about our community and want to serve. We had a record number of 31 residents who applied to fill the At-Large Council seat! After three rounds of interviews from the final pool of 26 applicants (five dropped out before the interviews), the West Jordan City Council unanimously appointed David B. Newton to fill the At-Large Council position left vacant when former Councilmember Jeff Haaga resigned. I’ve known Dave for years and was on the City Council when he served as Mayor from 2006-2010. His past experience as Mayor and also a Council Member will enable him to hit the ground running. He is a member of the Jordan Valley Medical Center board and also sits on the board of the Trans-Jordan Landfill. Dave will serve until January of 2018. Both At-Large and the mayoral seats are up for election this year, as well as the District 4 council position. The filing period is June 1-7. If you’re interested in running, email melanieb@wjordan.com.

THIRD-PARTY ONLINE BILL PAY FEES I also learned this week that some West Jordan utility customers have inadvertently used a third-party system to pay their West Jordan utility bill and have been assessed a service charge by the third-party system. The City of West Jordan does NOT charge a fee to use the official online bill pay system found on the city’s website www.WestJordan. Utah.gov. These third party companies, like doxo, can pop up in a Google search. They often have the city logo and look official, but they are not affiliated with the City of West Jordan. Please be aware that these companies charge a service fee. To avoid paying a service fee, please use the city’s website to pay your utility bill.

WHAT’S HAPPENING We are heading into our busy summer event season. I’m excited to kick it off with my Mayor’s Mile on May 13. I invite everybody to come participate in this free family fun run. Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the Jordan River Parkway Gardner Village Trailhead, 1100 West 7800 South, with the race set for 10 a.m. I also invite you to join us for the 10th Annual Memorial Day Tribute, May 29 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Military Services Monument in Veterans Memorial Park, 1985 West 7800 South. I’m thankful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and look forward to this meaningful tribute.


Notice of the 2017 Municipal Election CANDIDACY DECLARATION The City of West Jordan will be electing Council Seats for Mayor, two At-Large Council Members, and a two-year term for Council District 4 during this year’s municipal election. To declare Candidacy to run for a Council District position, the filing period this year is as follows: Thursday, June 1, 2017, through Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 5 p.m., in the City Clerk/ Recorder’s Office, City Hall, 8000 South Redwood Road, 3rd floor. For more information regarding the upcoming Municipal Election, please contact Melanie Briggs, City Clerk, 801-569-5117. All positions have fouryear terms, except Council District 4. If you are interested in running, listed below are the requirements: 1. Be a United States citizen. 2. Be at least 18 years old. 3. Be a resident of the municipality or a resident of the recent annexed area for at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the date of the election. 4. Be a registered voter of the municipality. 5. If declaring for Council District 4, live within the boundaries (which are in the area of 7800 South and Old Bingham Highway from Bangerter to west of U-111).

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7000 South Utilities Construction Update Progress continues on the 7000 South Utilities Project. Major work activities include storm drain and sewer line installation at 1300 West. This intersection is currently under heavy construction, with traffic pushed to the outside travel lanes and restricted left turns. Saturday and occasional night work is also occurring at this location. In addition, water line work is taking place between 2200 West and Redwood Road. Crews have been working to install a new water main line and lateral lines to homes in this area. Work at the South Jordan Canal and Salt Lake and Utah Canal is now substantially complete, just in time for irrigation water to be turned on. Minor work will continue at these locations for the next few weeks. One lane in each direction for east-west travel will be maintained, and potholes will be maintained. Over the next five months of the project, local residents and commuters can continue to expect continued lane reductions, intermittent one-way flagging operations, left-turn restrictions and occasional night work. Work includes removing and replacing pipelines, removing and replacing old utility services, as well as milling and overlaying a new roadway surface. Work is expected to take place Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. with occasional night work. Major traffic delays can be expected. Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are encouraged to use alternate routes whenever possible. For your safety and the safety of construction crews, please obey all construction signage and flagging operators. We know the construction impacts on this projects have been extensive, but we appreciate your continued patience as work to improve utility service, roadway drainage and create a smoother safer commute. For questions, or to receive weekly email updates, please contact the Public Information Team at construction@wjordan.com or 801-569-5101.


Get involved and make a difference in your community APPLY NOW TO SERVE ON A CITY COMMITTEE

Mayor’s Mile May 13 Hey kids! Are you faster than the mayor? Kids 14 and under are invited to race Mayor Kim V. Rolfe in the Mayor’s Mile at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13. Sign up for this free race by emailing events@wjordan.com or the day of the race from 9-10 a.m. at the Gardner Village trailhead, 1100

The city has a variety of volunteer-run committees designed to make our community a better place. If you have ever wanted to get involved and help shape the future of our city, now is the time. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities including: • Western Stampede – Dust off your cowboy hat and join the fun as we plan for our 63rd Western Stampede Rodeo. • Arts Council – Help promote art and cultural events and activities. Subcommittees include the following: o City Band o Mountain West Chorale o Theatre Board (Sugar Factory Playhouse) o Literary Arts o Visual Arts (help plan art exhibits at City Hall’s Schorr Gallery) o West Jordan Symphony • Activities and Events – From the Demolition Derby to the Independence Day parade to the Memorial Day Tribute and everything in between, help bring these events to life.

W. 7800 South. Each runner who races to the finish line and beats our Mayor will receive an “I Beat the Mayor” ribbon. Now, who wouldn’t want to brag and be able to say that they beat the mayor in running a mile? This is a great opportunity for children and youth under 14 to interact with public figures. What better way to interact with our Mayor than running alongside him? There will also be sidewalk chalk for the children to use their artistic ability and imagination on the trail. (Adults can race too but are ineligible for prize ribbons.) Email events@wjordan. com to register or for more information.

• Healthy West Jordan – Ready, set, RUN! The Healthy West Jordan Committee plans programs and events in an effort to keep our residents active and healthy. • Parks and Open Lands – Share your ideas on what types of parks we need and how we are going to pay for the maintenance and operations of them. • Sustainability – Help find ways for us to be more efficient in our use of water, energy and other resources and plan for the future growth in West Jordan. • Planning Commission – The Planning Commission helps determine the types of new homes that are built and where new stores and business are located. • Youth Theatre – help plan, produce, direct & stage some of the best local youth theatre productions. Email info@wjordan.com or contact City Hall at 801-569-5100 if you have questions about the committees or would like to apply.

Join Our Team The City of West Jordan has a variety of job openings including Development Coordinator, Seasonal Parks Laborer, Deputy City Attorney, Police Officer, Police Recruit, Deputy City Manager, GIS Intern, Utility Maintenance Technician, Street Maintenance Worker I, Lead Seasonal Parks Laborer, Court Clerk I and Crossing Guards. Please spread the word and help us find good people. We are especially in need of crossing guards to help our children safely arrive at school. This is a great part-time job for someone looking for flexibility and extra income. Visit WestJordan.Utah.gov for more information and to apply.





29 7


Veterans Memorial Park 1985 W. 7800 S.








Viridian Event Center 8030 S. 1825 W. 7 p.m.

City Hall Parking Lot 8000 S. Redwood Road 10 a.m.-noon












City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 6 p.m.

Gardner Village Trailhead 1100 W. 7800 S. 10 a.m.

Arena 8035 S. 2200 W. 10 a.m.-noon










City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 6 p.m.

City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Road 10 a.m.








24 City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 6 p.m.

City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd., 6 p.m.

Viridian Event Center 8030 S. 1825 W. 1 p.m.


Veterans Memorial Park 1985 W. 7800 S. • 7 p.m.


The City of West Jordan 8000 S. Redwood Rd., West Jordan, UT 84088 Join the conversation! Follow (801) 569-5100 www.wjordan.com West Jordan – City Hall.

West Jordan Police Dept. 8040 S. Redwood Rd. West Jordan, Utah 84088 801-256-2000 801-840-4000 Dispatch

Anthem Singer Tryouts The Stampede Committee is looking for singers each night of the Western Stampede rodeo July 1, 3 & 4. Auditions will take place at the West Jordan Arena, 8035 South 2200 West, Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m.-noon. Pre-registrations are guaranteed an audition. Walk-ups will be taken as time permits. Pre-register by emailing wjprca@wjordan.com.



May 2017 | Page 15

Time with grandparents/grandchildren benefits everyone By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


rley Bezanson walks to Copper Canyon Elementary every day, stopping by her grandma’s house for a morning hug. “I can’t think of a better way to start a day,” said Arley’s grandma, Camille Robinson. “That toothless smile brightens my day, every day.” Arley and her fellow first-graders know how special grandparents are. They honored theirs in a special program on March 14. Students sang songs, recited poems and read essays about their grandparents. “We have found this program to be a perfect way for our young students to incorporate one of their core social studies standards, which is to articulate how individual choices affect self, peers and others,” said first-grade teacher Esther Russell. She said her students love talking about their families, especially their grandparents. “It’s a chance to honor them, share stories about them and examine how their choices really have shaped their lives,” Russell said. Mia Coralic said in her essay, “I have the best grandpa. He puts me first. When I come home, he puts everything aside to make me happy.” Mia’s family lives with her grandpa, Sakib Bihcic. A grandfather to five, Bihcic does what grandparents do best—he makes time for them and makes them feel important. He is also improving Mia’s life, according

to the Family Studies Center at BYU. Their 2011 study found that children with strong relationships with their grandparents have less anxiety and depression than their peers and show more prosocial behaviors such as kindness and generosity. The study also found grandfathers’ involvement, specifically, boosts their grandchild’s grades, self-esteem, emotional adjustment and quality of friendships. Sarah Robason, the parent of a first-grader, knows how important grandparents are. “My grandparents taught me how to work hard. They taught me values. And now my parents teach my kids how to enjoy life—without the technology,” said Robason, whose son, Landon, told the audience how he likes to play board games with his grandparents. The benefits of the grandparent/grandchild relationship also extend to the grandparents, said Brett McKay, who researched the subject for his blog, The Art of Manliness. “Grandparents who have the opportunity to be emotionally close to their grandchildren as well as provide them with functional support (transportation, help with chores or finances, etc.) have been shown to have less depression and more robust psychological health than those who do not,” he wrote. Randy and Gayle Agla agree that being

Copper Canyon first-graders honor their grandparents with song, poetry and essays. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

grandparents improves their lives by helping them stay active and involved, which is why they drove up from Utah County to see their grandchild’s program at Copper Canyon. “You go to ball games and soccer games and school programs—things you probably wouldn’t do if you didn’t have grandkids,” said Randy Agla. His wife, Gayle, said they are both recently retired and have more time for their 19 grandkids. “It’s the best way to spend our time,” she said. “I think we’re busier now than we were when we worked,” Randy Agla said. Jane Hyte, who came to see her granddaughter Aubrey sing in the program, sees benefits from

being a grandma. “I feel like I’m given energy being around my grandchildren,” said Hyte, who has 24. “It is such a delight to be involved in their lives.” Once the program was over, the stage curtains parted to reveal a book fair. “Grandparents are often in the dark as to what kind of material their grandchild likes to read,” said Russell. The PTA held the book fair while grandparents had time (and money) to spend with their grandchildren. “This is a chance to spoil them a bit, and let them choose a book they may treasure because of who it’s from,” said Russell, who has 11 grandchildren. The program was brief to allow time for students and their grandparents to share cookies and milk and to get their picture taken together. Having a grandparent involved with their children also benefits the parents. Living in the same apartment complex, Robinson can support Arley’s mom (who is actually her niece.) When her sister passed away, Robinson stepped in as grandma to the five grandchildren left behind. Robinson helps when Arley’s parents need someone to read with her, to comfort her or to play baseball with. “I play baseball with grandma because Mom and Dad aren’t very good—and they don’t have the energy,” Arley said. l

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Page 16 | May 2017

West Jordan Journal

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he art pieces of four beginning ceramics students from West Jordan Middle School were juried for the National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition in Portland, Oregon. Ellice Taylor, ceramics teacher at WJMS who selected the pieces for submission, teaches her students life skills as they learn to create winning pieces. “The key to success is to be open-minded, be willing to try it, and if it doesn’t work the first time, to try it again,” Taylor said. She teaches that sculpting requires a lot of trial and error. Diana Rincon said most of the time her pieces turn out differently than she expects. She was able to achieve her best glazing results yet on her mug, which was chosen for the competition. Brianna Lucas’ piece, “Cactus Teapot,” was one of 158 that were selected out of more than 1,400 submission as a winner and was on display at the Winner’s Exhibit in Oregon on Students Zachary Both, Diana Rincon, Victoria Nguyen and Brianna Lucas pose with their pieces selected for a national ceramics competition. (Ellice Taylor/West Jordan Middle) March 23. Brianna’s piece was inspired by her love of cacti; she uses them in many of her He said sculpting can be frustrating. Often can help with those goals. “If you’re going to write code, you need to art pieces. She also had a drawing featuring pieces break several times during the creation process. be creative,” Taylor said. “You have to follow a cactus in the school art fair in held in April. “The only guarantee in ceramics is that the rules and there’s a structure, but you have “Sometimes as an artist, you just thoroughly explore a subject matter from all something will break or not turn out the way to be able to think outside the box—that’s how you come up with new ideas.” different media and different ways of looking you want it to,” Taylor tells her students. Taylor said sculpting requires problemShe believes employers need creative at it,” Taylor said. Taylor, who has a degree in sculpture solving skills. She believes this is an example thinkers who can problem-solve, and that’s and ceramics, teaches her students sculpting of how fine arts skills benefit students in other why art classes that teach these skills are so beneficial to students. techniques and then lets them explore how areas of their lives. Taylor has worked in the technology Art also teaches students to not give up to apply them. Students said she never does anything for them; she lets them work through industry for many years. This is her first year when things don’t work out the first time. She teaching art and CTE classes at WJMS. She said each of the students who had winning their own problems and process. Zach Both didn’t even consider himself wants to incorporate technology into her pieces have also had pieces that failed. “You just have to keep trying, and an artist when he signed up for ceramics class ceramics classroom with a 3-D printer that extrudes clay instead of plastic. It will cost eventually you’ll get something that you can last semester. “I’ve never been good at drawing,” Zach about $5,000, which she hopes to get through be proud of,” said Taylor. Zach plans to keep trying. Even though said. “I’ve always been good at building stuff. a grant or a sponsor. “It would be fun to combine technology he is not enrolled in a ceramics class this When I got into ceramics, it really just came naturally and easily to me, and I was just able and 21st century skills with these very ancient semester, he spends time after school to techniques,” said Taylor. continue sculpting pieces. One of those pieces to build and create.” Victoria Nguyen enjoys art and is taking won the top prize at the school art fair in Zach utilized class time as well as after school hours to build and add detailing to his several art classes, but she plans to be a April. Taylor plans to submit this piece to the teapot, which was styled to look like a house. computer programmer. Taylor insists that art national competition next year. l

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May 2017 | Page 17

Where in the world . . . are all the girls? By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


noushka Kharkar was poised to win the National Geographic Society Utah State Geography Bee. For the seven questions of her preliminary round, Anoushka earned the only perfect score in her group of 20 other fourththrough eighth-graders, guaranteeing her spot in the final round. In 24 years, only one girl has ever won the Utah State Geography Bee. Only two have ever won the National Geography Bee. Anoushka, an eighth-grader at Challenger School of Salt Lake, has been competing in the State Bee since fifth grade. As a sixth-grader, she placed third, and as a seventh-grader, she placed second. Anoushka placed third this year, her final year of competition. (The only other girl in the final round, Adelaide Parker, placed fourth.) Each student attending the Utah State Geography Bee held at Thanksgiving Point on March 31 was their school’s champion, selected to compete with the top students in Utah as determined by a 70-question geography test. This year, of 102 students who qualified for the bee, only 25 percent were girls. Morgan Edman, a fifth-grader from Falcon Ridge Elementary in West Jordan said there were more boys than girls competing in her school bee, which she won. But she was surprised there were so few girls at the State Bee.

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Fourth-grader Lainey Porter won the school bee at Taylorsville Elementary, where four of the top seven students were girls, including the one who took second place. So where were all the girls at the state level? Explanations range from differing learning styles to confidence to interest. Helen Jones, who has a minor in geography and has taught history and geography for Canyons District, believes that girls and boys have different strengths in learning geography. “Boys like to keep track of where things are and who’s winning,” said Jones, who was a volunteer at the State Bee this year. “Young women have an attention to detail. So if we’re looking at map skills, the girls may be further ahead.” Jones also believes girls may have an edge with cultural geography with a tendency to pay more attention to what happens to people. Jones said the types of questions used at the bee cover a variety of geographic knowledge, including culture, politics, place and region, human movement and interaction, and map skills. Those don’t favor one gender over the other. State Bee Coordinator Kevin Poff has taught geography in Utah for 25 years. “In class, I haven’t noticed a difference between genders in being able to access geographic concepts or knowledge,” said Poff. He believes the age of the participants, which ranges from 10 to 14, is a factor. “This is the age where, socially, girls are a little more hesitant to forge out on their own, especially when they are in mixed gender academic groups,” he said. Anoushka agrees lack of confidence may inhibit some girls. “When I go into competitions, there’s always more dudes,” she said. “Girls don’t normally go into these things because it’s dominated by dudes.” But Anoushka said she wasn’t intimidated by the boys—or anyone else—including last year’s winner, Ankiti Garg, who took first place again this year. His sister, Gauri Garg, was the first girl to win the Utah Bee, which she did in 2014 and again in 2015. “I tell myself that I studied a lot, and I can do well,” Anoushka said. “I’ve done well previous years, and I’ve studied so hard this year.” She also had the support of her family, including her older sister (who placed sixth in the State Bee a few years ago). Olivia Boase, an eighth-grader who won her school bee at Sunset Ridge Middle in West Jordan, wasn’t bothered by being in the minority.

Girls were well represented at the Taylorsville Elementary Geography Bee but not at the State Bee. (Leslie Porter/Taylorsville Elementary)

“I don’t feel intimidated by the boys, and I don’t think anybody should,” she said. “They’re all just the same age of us. They have the same amount of experience. Who says we can’t beat them?” Girls can beat the boys—at least they have in other academic competitions. Edward Cohn from American Prospect Magazine reported that equal numbers of boys and girls compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, with girls wining it more often than boys do. Olivia suggested there are more boys who are interested in geography. “The only reason I participated in the school bee was because there were cookies, and I got to skip math class,” she said. But there are girls who love the subject. “The studying is arduous but it’s a lot of fun to learn about the world,” Anoushka said. As a teacher, Lainey’s mother, Leslie Porter, has nurtured her daughter’s interest in geography. “I have always loved going to her classroom and looking at all her maps,” Lainey said. Poff believes an understanding of the wider global community is what makes the difference for students who qualify for the bee. “I notice a difference when kids come to me with an attitude and viewpoint that is a little more global, and that seems to have more to do with life experiences than it does with gender,” said Poff. So what does the National Geographic Society say about the low numbers of girls in

their bee? In a study commissioned in 1996 they concluded: “There is a slight difference between what girls and boys know about geography,” reported Marni Merksamer on “National Geographic Today.” Roger Downs, author of the study “Gender and Geography,” explained that starting at the school level, if boys know slightly more than the girls, the winner is more likely to be a boy. If the same thing happens again at the state level, when competitors reach the national level, what is now an extreme gap in gender actually started out as a very, very small one. Developmental psychologist Lynn Liben, who was involved in the study, explained, “It’s like if you’re a runner. If you’re just a little bit better, you’re going to win the race,” she said.” It doesn’t mean that the person who came in second is a slow slug.” Pallavi Ranade-Kharkar, Anoushka’s mother, said competition is unpredictable—you can never guarantee the outcome. But she is very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. “We tell her it’s the effort you put in, and she has really put in a top-notch effort all year,” she said. Whatever the reason for the low numbers of girls winning the bee, Olivia puts the matter into perspective. “I knew that I would just do what I could, and I knew that even if people beat me, I would still be smart,” she said. l

“Boys like to keep track of where things are and who’s winning. Young women have an attention to detail. So if we’re looking at map skills, the girls may be further ahead.”


Page 18 | May 2017

West Jordan Journal

Lightning-fast Jaguars take to track By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com


he West Jordan High School track team has had an increase in team members this season. That increase has brought with it a new level of success. “We are excited our team has grown this year,” Jaguar head track coach Steph Davis said. “I helped coach football, and the kids all got to know me and our program. We have a mission as a school to better our athletes. We know that track can help. We would like to win a region title and take more kids to state for sure.” On April 1 at the 2017 Copper Hills Invitational, the Jaguars demonstrated its newfound achievements. The girls and boys both placed second just behind its Region 3 rival Copper Hills. Freshman Sherry Nima is among the newcomers to the team using track to help be better in her main sport, soccer. “My race felt great; I think the middle was better,” she said. “I have not attained my goals, but I will get there. I think track can help me get faster for soccer.” She ran the 100 meters in 13.01 seconds at the Copper Hills Invitational April 1. Her first-place run was just short of a state qualifying time of 12.87. She plans to run track her entire career at West Jordan. “We want to represent the school well,” Davis said. “We would like to show up at an event and have everyone say there is West Jordan. Our throw team is strong, and we have some good sprinters. Some people think of track as running, but I feel our

Mack Wakley lines up for his 100-meter sprint. He holds a top-15 time in the state this season. (Greg James/City Journals

field events are very good.” Another sprinter, sophomore Jasmine Lopez, finished third at the Invitational with a 13.87 time in the 100. Lopez combined with Nima, Machenzie Perfill and Olivia Horrocks to finish second in the 4x100 relay. “I like to be competitive,” Lopez said. “I felt like I gave it my all in this race today. This season, I feel like we have a lot of good athletes. I have looked up to Kaysha Love (from Herriman

and current UNLV runner) she leaves it all on the track. I have never met her, but I have seen her around the meets and stuff. She is what I would like to become.” The boys sprinters were not to be outdone by the girls. In the 4x100 relay, senior Mack Wakley closed the gap on the back stretch, and the Jaguars held on for a second-place finish. Wakley, Tyler Martain, Allan Ahanonu and first-time track participant Carl Odom finished the relay in 44.26 seconds. The 4x400 relay was the highlight of the runners’ meet. Wakley, Martain, Forest Rich and Andrew Klinger out-distanced the second-place Copper Hills team by five seconds. “I have been trying to qualify for state,” Wakley said. “I started running track to stay in shape for football. Then I figured that I was pretty good at it, so I just stayed with it.” The state track meet is scheduled for May 19–20 at the Clarence F. Robison Track and Field Stadium on the BYU campus. “I run track to help me in football,” Odom said. “Coach tells us that track is one of the hardest sports he ever did. He just wants us competing.” In field events at the Invitational, Travis Jensen and Jonathan Soto placed first and second, respectively, in the pole vault. Sophomore Sadie Adams won the javelin, and Zerah Frost placed fifth. Senior Kaiden Snow placed second in discus and fourth in shot put. l



Maykayla Fernandez leads the team with three triples. Her high on-base percentage, .541, has been a key to the Jaguars’ ability to score runs. (West Jordan Softball)

Courage to play for those that can’t By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com


est Jordan High School’s softball team plays its games for those who can’t themselves. “We are playing great,” third-year head coach Jim Oliver said. “We got off to a good start. The girls are hitting the ball, and things are coming together for us. We did not win these games last year. This year we have had more success.” To begin the season, the team sat down and jotted down goals. They used the Utah High School Activities Association hashtag, #myreasonwhy to give reason to their season. Many of the players cited desire to be better, love of the game and other normal reason kids play sports. “Each girl made a poster and listed out why they play,” Oliver said. “Many still listed the yellow ribbon from Allison Delgado a couple of years ago (her brother committed suicide); they also are playing for each other. We had a player (Anna Russon) that is a member of the team and wanted to play this season. She was diagnosed with an illness right after the season began and cannot play. Many of our girls listed their reason why as to play for those who can’t.” The Jaguars are seeing success. They play in one of the toughest regions in the state. At press time they had a 9-4 overall record and had won two of their three region games. Oliver said their pitching will need to handle the stress of going against the top teams. “Emmie Hicks is a freshman pitcher that has done a nice job,” Oliver said. “She played in the summer with us and has done some rec league and worked on her own, but she has made the difference in a lot of wins.” As the Jaguars began region play in April, Hicks had a 6-2 record and had struck out 36 opposing hitters. Oliver said velocity is not what makes her a good pitcher; it is the movement she has on each pitch. “At practice we were working on some side pitching,” Oliver said. “I was being the umpire. Emmie threw a pitch that had a lot of rise and it tipped off the catcher’s glove and

hit me in the mouth. It made me realize that she is uncomfortable to be in the box against. Her pitches have a lot of action.” Junior Ali Moffit has taken a big load at pitcher also. She has a 3-2 record. She pitched a complete game for the Jaguars in the first game of the season, a 19-3 victory over Skyline. Transfers from Casper, Wyoming, sisters Makayla and Andrea Fernandez have helped solidify the lineup. They have combined for five triples and 20 runs batted in. Senior Gabby Oliver is leading the state in runs scored. A four-year starter, she leads the team with a .643 batting average. Several colleges have expressed interest in her. The other team captain, Mckenzie Newton, has a .419 batting average and has belted two home runs. “Our goal is to make state,” Oliver said. “We have three teams in our region that are pretty good (Bingham, Copper Hills and Taylorsville). We want to compete with those teams. We really want to play a game at the Valley Complex (where the 5A state tournament is held).” The 5A state tournament is scheduled to begin May 16. The Jaguars have not qualified for the tournament in two years. l

Jaguar senior Zoie Hansen is hitting .393 this season and has 11 RBIs. (West Jordan Softball)

May 2017 | Page 19

Page 20 | May 2017


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May 2017 | Page 21



Laughter AND



Skin Deep


y husband likes to say, “We’re not getting any younger.” Well, no @$&#, Sherlock. Every time I open a magazine or watch a hairspray commercial, I’m reminded that I’m quickly approaching my “Best if used by” date. If I was milk, you’d be sniffing me before pouring me on your cereal. Like billions of women throughout history, I’m always looking for ways to keep my wrinkles at bay and my sagging to a minimum. I know it’s a losing battle, but my bathroom continues to look like a mad scientist’s laboratory with creams (crèmes if you’re pretentious), serums, oils and lotions all guaranteed to create the illusion of youth. Everywhere I turn, there’s a new fix for what ails me, like the treatment to tighten elbow skin. I could have gone the rest of my life without worrying about sagging elbow skin. Now I keep my elbows perpetually bent so they look youthful. After doing extensive research by Googling “How to look 45 years younger,” I found some good advice---and a list of things I will never, ever try, even when my age spots have age spots. Good advice includes drinking lots of water (I like my water in the form of ice. Mixed with Coke.), getting enough sleep (3 hours is good sleep, right?) and splurging on facials (it kills me to pay someone $50 to wash my face). And there’s always a trendy ingredient that shows up in beauty products. Bee venom was a thing last year, promising to plump up skin and reduce fine

lines. Maybe that’s why the bumble bees are disappearing. Beautiful people are kidnapping swarms and stealing their venom. Seems plausible. This year’s list of potentially deadly anti-aging treatments doesn’t disappoint. For less than $1,000, physicians will take plasma from your blood and inject it into your face. If you’re not into vampire facials, your dermatologist can permanently place ceramic crystals under your skin for a natural glow. The downside: your body might reject the crystals as foreign objects. Probably because they’re foreign objects. Placenta powder, sterilized nightingale poop treatments and urine facials have hit the cosmetology industry this year, giving a new meaning to “flushing out toxins.” Along with bees, other lifeforms are helping us look radiant. And by “helping” I mean creeping us out. Leeching is a thing again. This medieval treatment for everything from PMS to cancer has found its way onto our bodies. Leeches are supposed to purify blood and promote a feeling of vitality. Nope. Nope. And . . . nope. Can’t do blood-sucking leeches? How about slimy snails? A doctor with too much time on his hands says snail slime contains wrinkle fighting ingredients. I’m not sure how he tested his theory, but I hope there’s a YouTube video. If you like to play with lighters, fire facials come with a cloth soaked in alcohol that is ignited and placed against the skin for a few seconds to, not only decrease

sagging skin, but to decrease your skin completely. And there’s always the tried-and-true products like fillers and Botox, but the list of side effects make me wonder if wrinkles are really that bad. Yes, I’ve got a murder of crows stamping around the corners of my eyes but I’m not experiencing pain, redness, shortness of breath, bruising, infection or bleeding. All those wacky treatments make my skin crawl. For non-celebrities like myself, I’ll continue with my drugstore products and hope that nobody decides to toss me out with the spoiled yogurt. l

Page 22 | May 2017

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Flipping out over the cost of summer entertainment




re you at your wallets end when it comes to family entertainment? It can be hard to find something all age ranges can enjoy. Plus, for some of our area’s more popular theme parks, it seems as if we have to mortgage the house just to gain admission, and on top of the high prices, they add insult to injury and charge just to park the car. If your wallet is already having a panic attack over the expense of your upcoming summer vacation, now is the time to discover the latest craze that is catching on at your favorite park. It’s disc golf. It’s easy to try; it’s fun for all ages---and it’s my favorite word—FREE. As more and more Utah parks are adding courses, it’s becoming easier than ever to enjoy a pleasant afternoon at a nearby of location or take a journey to see some of our amazing scenery. I recently I stumbled on a course at Brighton Resort. To make the most of this experience, here are some things to keep in mind when gearing up to flip out. 1. Take a look at a map: As the popularity of disc golf expands, many online sites offer detailed maps of courses and distance markers. Some sites include scorecards, too.


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Profile for The City Journals

West Jordan Journal May 2017  

West Jordan Journal May 2017